No Rebates for You Published: May 15, 2008 Immigrant restrictionism is stiffing hundreds of thousands of American citizens and legal residents out of their tax-rebate checks. Hard-liners were so intent on keeping the cash out of the hands of undocumented workers that they restricted the rebate to people with Social Security numbers. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service to people who pay taxes but do not qualify for Social Security numbers, will not do. If a married couple files jointly, and one spouse is not eligible for the rebate, neither gets the money. This hurts all manner of people who are working and paying taxes: American soldiers stationed abroad who happen to have married foreigners; high-tech immigrants in Silicon Valley and other places whose spouses are not authorized to work or have not yet had their paperwork processed. These are people who are perfectly legal, economically vital and politically inconvenient. The government should fix the law so spouses get their money. It is a technical repair that even this Congress should manage. But why shouldnt undocumented immigrants with taxpayer numbers get the cash too? The checks are not rewards for good behavior; they are taxes returned as a means to an end. Illegal immigrants constitute about 5 percent of the work force and earn much less than the native-born. They are just the sort of group the stimulus should be aimed at, if the purpose is to get the most economic bang for every rebate dollar. Arguments like that do not fly in the polluted atmosphere of immigration politics, which has produced toxic byproducts so extreme that they make the rebate glitch seem like a mere annoyance. Industries across the country are suffering and crops are rotting for lack of workers. Congress is debating a national right-to-work system that could mistakenly ensnare countless Americans and seriously overburden the Social Security bureaucracy. Federal agents and local police officers around the nation are rounding up the usual immigrants. Such crackdowns have forced thousands of harmless people into a fast-growing, secretive detention system that is shockingly deficient in basic rights and decent health care. In a disturbing article, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the United States government had injected hundreds of undocumented foreigners with mind-altering drugs to render them docile while they were being deported. This practice violates every imaginable standard of decency, not to mention a few international laws and treaties. Smart efforts to minimize the ill effects of illegal immigration die political deaths, meanwhile, like putting the undocumented into New York States motor-vehicle database, registered and insured instead of anonymous and unaccounted for. That was also the fate of the Dream Act, a modest bill to ease the way to college for the guiltless children of illegal immigrants so they would not be condemned to dead-end jobs. A model identity-card program in New Haven, hailed for lowering crime, is under legal attack from nativist groups. Efforts at deliberate, proportionate and responsible immigration reform provoke paralysis, but restrictionist tactics are greeted with exuberance. The itch to do something about illegal immigration is being scratched. Note to country: Scratching never cured anything. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/15/opinion/15thu1.html?ref=opinion Fucking lunatics.